Conditions on bailouts
I applaud the efforts of the Big Three American automakers to present plans for regaining financial health as a condition for collecting their bailout money.
My question is: Why didn't the Democratic Congress place similar requirements on AIG and Citicorp before handing them billions of our tax dollars?
How ironic is the picture of General Motors Chief Executive Rick Wagoner exiting a Chevy Volt electric vehicle prototype. Weren't the automaker bigwigs, along with Big Oil, effectively responsible for killing the electric vehicle when it was just becoming a viable alternative?
What nerve they have to come hat in hand now to be rescued. The $34 billion they want would be better spent on building more mass transit and reducing our dependency on foreign oil.
Chrysler is owned by a group of investors looking for a financial windfall. Does anybody really believe the auto industry is more important to them than recouping their losses?
Bail out General Motors after bankruptcy, offer loan guarantees to Ford and let the Chrysler investors solve their problems with that fabulous executive ingenuity that enabled them to buy Chrysler for a song.
Here's a novel solution to help solve the U.S. automakers' problems without taxpayer bailouts or disingenuous lawmakers posturing for the camera at Capitol Hill hearings: How about Americans buying American cars?
James L. Hardeman
A few good words for Saturn
I am sorry to see that Saturn may vanish, as I own an SC1 that has provided seven years and 145,000 miles of 31-miles-per-gallon fun.
When it needs replacement, I will want a similar U.S.-built car. But the Saturn brand has been doomed by too few dealers -- driving many miles for routine service is a real pain.
Hopefully one of General Motors' other brands can sell well-built, economical but fun cars in the same vein as the S-series.
La Cañada Flintridge
Just deserts for O.J.?
Seeing your photo of O.J. Simpson in prison garb and shackles, his hair considerably grayer than the last time he stood trial, calls to mind what a great equalizer life can be.
We are all victims of our own behavior, our own faulty logic, our own greed. In the end, no one is immune to being brought down, no matter how high the pedestal on which they stood. (See Nixon, Richard; Edwards, John; Lay, Kenneth.)
Some through wealth and influence may forestall the inevitable consequences of their deeds. But eventually, everyone's chickens come home to roost.
All karma aside, try taking O.J.'s name out of this case. A man and friends confronted two others to retrieve items considered stolen. They brought a gun, threatened, and left with what they wanted.
Now consider what a responsible guilty verdict should bring. One year? Two? Five, even?
Try up to 33 years. Reasonable? Or one travesty of justice to correct another?
Taking on the terrorists
I never thought I'd ever be in agreement with Rosa Brooks, but I have to agree with her that we are not in a "war on terror"; terrorism is just a tactic.
However, what she fails to say is that we are in a war against Islamofascists and other believers of totalitarianism who seek to take the "free" out of the free world.
Brooks is right to allude to the stark fact that terrorism is interwoven in our societies, and to call on President-elect Barack Obama to help resolve intractable conflicts. The haunting images of dead and wounded in Mumbai should not diminish our resolve to counterbalance terrorists' tactics. Kashmir has been a festering wound on the Indian subcontinent for decades. Likewise, the Arab-Israeli conflict has been smoldering since 1948. Countless lives have been lost because of our failure to persuade Arabs and Israelis to live harmoniously.
Obama has a chance to enter history not just as the first African American president but as a leader who can act decisively to bring peace to the world.
Munjed Farid Al Qutob
Scavenging for survival
In his Op-Ed article, Craig Childs states, "There's something primal and deeply satisfying about searching for the manna of civilization."
In the Column One article on Zimbabwe, The Times reports that "people search for scraps in garbage dumps, working shoulder to shoulder with baboons."
The juxtaposition of these two articles in the same edition of The Times is deeply disturbing, and one would hope that Childs might reconsider his blithe and light-hearted comments.
Scavenging for trash while watching one's children die of starvation is inhumane, and to equate such a situation with the suggestion that it's time "we lift scavenging out of the darkness and sing the praises of those who cull the world" is offensive and arrogant.
Let Childs do his scavenging in Zimbabwe and see how far he gets.
I'm an artist and educator who found Childs' Op-Ed amusing, entertaining and resonant.
Artists have long been attracted to the possibilities of trash and refuse, going back to early Picasso and the work of others in collage and assemblage.
I recently assigned my basic studio arts class an assemblage project with instructions to dumpster dive, rummage about and bring to class a box full of discarded items with which they would create an artwork.
Collective skepticism soon turned into enthusiasm as they manipulated, glued, nailed and wired their stuff into all sorts of interesting visions. They seemed to have tapped into the primal satisfaction principle and "carnival of possibilities" so aptly described in this article.
Is it too much to hope that maybe they learned an economics lesson as well as an environmental lesson?
My wife and I are graduates of beautiful Hollywood High School. I worked in Hollywood for 25 years. We still live there. The Hollywood Bowl is magnificent.
Hollywood was a lovely, world-famous town. Then came the monstrous, overpowering supergraphics blight. Why are people being treated like this in their own hometown? It isn't happening in Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Pasadena, Paris and elsewhere.
I hope for change in what children cannot help but see on their way to and from school. They, their parents and others are paying taxes for City Council members to protect their enjoyable, undistracted view of blue skies, billowing clouds, stars, the moon, the gorgeous Hollywood Hills at sunrise and sunset and the Hollywood sign, their Eiffel Tower.